There goes Football Kenya Federation(FKF), tearing into the tenets of media freedom with the same puppyish ferocity typical of institutions with shadowy deals.
FKF sacked the national team coach eight games into a campaign citing “mutual consent”. They pumped millions of shillings into an awards gala for the men’s first and second division leagues while completely neglecting the women’s league whose winner got a paltry Sh350,000 in prize money.
Last week, many were heard criticizing the federation’s decision to keep Fifa Secretary General Fatma Samoura away from the reach of local media.
This high-ranking Fifa official was in the country for a two-day tour and was the chief guest at the final of the inaugural Cecafa Women’s Champions League qualifiers at Kasarani. A press conference earlier scheduled for midday on Thursday was abruptly canceled.
FKF first claimed that Samoura would only take questions regarding her visit to Kenya, then canceled the thing altogether, perhaps upon realizing how difficult it would be to prevent journalists from asking the many questions lingering in the minds of Kenyan football stakeholders.
The first question would have been about the now-infamous Outside Broadcasting van. In 2017, Fifa released Sh100 million ($1.5 million) for the federation to buy the van to air local football matches and hopefully attract more revenue to the local game. Four years later, there is no OB van, and there is no money.
Nation Sport did a couple of investigative stories on this in 2019, and Fifa responded saying the matter was under investigation. Samoura was best placed to give an update. Her “unavailability” only means that Kenyans will have to wait longer to know where the van vanished.
The second question would be about an ongoing Achilles heel – Covid-19. Last year, CAF and Fifa released about Sh100 million ($1.5 million) to cushion federations against the effects of Covid-19.
However, to date, no club, player, coach, the referee has ever received a penny from these funds. In countries like Uganda, clubs in the first and second division, and even women’s clubs, received monies from this kitty. Dear Fifa SG, is Fifa satisfied with the way those funds were used in Kenya?
Question three, no doubt, would have touched on the Sports Disputes Tribunal. Early last year, Fifa said it doesn’t recognize the SDT, which is a body created under Kenyan law. Does Fifa expect ordinary Kenyan sports stakeholders to approach Fifa for arbitration in the event of internal disputes? A clarification from Fifa SG is desperately needed.
Now, all we have of Samoura’s visit are short clips of her walking around and saying little of substance. This move is unsurprisingly consistent with FKF’s modus operandi, where journalists who dare to think with their heads and not their stomachs have been kicked out of press conferences, barred from covering live matches, vilified on social media, and even threatened with death.